Holly, tinsel and a lawsuit

It’s that time of year again – it always comes round so quickly! Your office is no doubt buzzing with plans for the Christmas party, joking and reminiscing about last year’s antics. We all enjoy a good work Christmas party. They’re an opportunity to celebrate our relationships with our colleagues and all we’ve achieved together during the year. For employers, however, the merriness can turn sour if the celebrations get out of hand and risks aren’t managed appropriately. Employer’s obligations to manage workplace health and safety risks apply to work functions too and it’s important to keep that in mind heading into the silly season. So we’ve put together a few tips for your Christmas function:

Set some clear behaviour expectations

Your workplace policies and procedures about employee behaviour still apply at work functions and a Christmas function is a good opportunity to draw attention to those policies again.

Plan your function appropriately

Make sure you choose an appropriate venue for the function by undertaking risk assessments of function venues for any possible health and safety hazards.  It’s a good idea to have senior employee or manager organising the function. Set clear start and finish times and make sure these are communicated to your employees.

Limit the amount of alcohol available and remind employees it’s their responsibility to drink responsibly

Your work Christmas function isn’t the place to demonstrate your generosity by having free flowing alcohol. If you encourage your employees to consume large amounts of alcohol during the function, you are exposing yourself to legal risks if any incidents occur as a result. Make sure you have light/non-alcoholic alternative available too.

Remind employees about the legal driving limits and consider arranging transport to and from an off-site venue

If you’re having an off-site function, it’s a good idea to arrange the transport there and back, ensuring that your employees get there and back safely.

Set an example

The best way to foster a good atmosphere at the Christmas function is to set the standard you expect in your own behaviour. Make it clear to your managers that you expect them to lead the way in how they behave.

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